Calum MacLEOD was today savouring adding to his already historic cricketing cv after spearheading Scottish Saltires’ defeat of Nottinghamshire Outlaws in the Clydesdale Bank Pro 40 at Raeburn Place.
The Scots posted an 18-run win under the Duckworth/Lewis method for deciding rain-affected matches and proved dominant in most aspects as MacLeod smacked a chanceless 58 to add to an unprecedented four catches in a match against an English county.
“It was good to get off the mark in winning terms,” said MacLeod who, five years ago, became the youngest player to be capped by his country, aged 18, and never mind that he is arguably the sole Gaelic speaker to figure in an Ashes series having been called upon as a substitute fielder for England against Australia in 2009 during a stint with Warwickshire.
Coincidentally, Scotland had lost to Surrey by an identical margin the previous day also under the D/L and MacLeod, whose opening partner Josh Davey was unbeaten on 44, added: “Against Surrey we got hampered by the rain a little bit but we were able to learn a bit from that.
“We were a little bit more aggressive and had more of an eye on the weather in case we needed to think about the D/L. We were picking shots that were slightly more deliberate and, from a personal point of view, I had been getting starts but not kicking on.
“Once I got going I played with a little bit more freedom. They were good bowlers, bowling in good areas and I couldn’t just let them bowl at me.
“So, I thought if I can shuffle around a bit and put them off that would help. It is quite a common thing. It was nice to play more of a part. Any win for Scotland is good. But I’m glad I am starting to contribute on a more consistent basis.”
Those four catches were only the beginning of MacLeod’s tour-de-force as, in partnership with Davey, he shared in a century-opening stand which surpassed his Scottish CB record second wicket get together of 93 with Ryan Flannigan set in 2011.
Also, the last three-figure opening stand by Scotland came in 2008 against Kenya in a World Cup qualifier while it was a first in a limited over clash with county opposition since Iain Philip and Bruce Patterson made 143 against Lancashire in 1992.
While Davey was dropped early on at slip by Alex Hales and in the deep when on 43 by Michael Lumb, the march by MacLeod to his half-century as Scotland were stalled at 108 pursuing a target of 219-7 was flawless.
Indeed, MacLeod could have shown the fielders, who, admittedly, had to cope with a slippery ball, a trick or two having pouched two of his four catches in the covers and the remainder at long on.
This on a day when a nippy wind made conditions particularly difficult.
In achieving what was Saltires’ first win over Notts, the toss was won by skipper Gordon Drummond for the second successive day.
As with the Surrey encounter 24 hours earlier, Scotland struck twice early including one wicket for Ali Evans whose impressive figures of 1-26 from six overs included a wicket maiden.
Josh Davey got a couple of scalps as did Majid Haq who was twice driven down the ground to the waiting MacLeod whose overall catch total for Scotland rose to 20 taking him from 48 to joint 36 in the overall rankings.
Persevering with a seam attack, Notts were rocked by the severity of the Scottish response in which MacLeod smashed seven fours and hooked the first ball bowled by Paul Franks for six.
Poor Franks, in fact, had the worst of it as one delivery slipped from his fingers and soared over the head of his wicket-keeper albeit such difficulties and the poor light made the efforts of the Scottish batsmen all the more remarkable.
As for Davey, he kept his end up diligently with a couple of boundaries.
Little wonder coach Peter Steindl wore a satisfied smile when he summed up, saying:
“It was a bit of a turn-around and we were more aggressive which was good. Again we were solid in the field and with the ball in hand. It was a better all-round performance.
“We knew the areas we had to work on to put in a more professional performance and did that with a good opening partnership.
“We always kept ourselves well above the Duckworth/Lewis but at the same time with one eye on the fact it might go 40 overs,
“That’s a tricky situation but the guys handled it well. It is always is a help to get a win early on.
“Calum went out and was very aggressive and stuck to his best options which is exactly what you want to be doing as a batter and at the end of the day it got us across the line.”